Begin with an empty cup

A couple days ago, I was in a Yoga class in the midst of transitioning from downward dog to a high lunge when I was reminded that each time I step onto that mat, I’ve been given a chance to start over – to begin with an empty cup so I can allow new lessons to come. Even after years, I’m still learning new ways of approaching my downward dog.

Just as every morning we wake up is a another chance to figure out how this living thing works.

Each time you touch that guitar is a new chance to learn how to create music from those strings.

Each time you touch your computer is a chance to find the best way to produce what you need to produce.

Can we approach life remembering to empty our cups and approach things as new chances for learning?

That relationship that didn’t work out gave you a new chance of stepping into others – hopefully better ones.

That project that didn’t pan out gave you a new chance to find other approaches on delivering the same message or product.

That time you hurt someone gave you a chance to be better when you come across the same situation.

It’s not easy to remember to see things as new chances. Our minds tend to go into autopilot and focus on all the miseries we had. 

“Eugh, why can’t I get even a simple downward dog, right?”
“I can’t believe it’s already morning.”
“I can never get the riff. This song is too difficult.”
“Back to work. *big sigh*. I hope this ends soon.”
“And here I am with another broken heart. Maybe I’m not good at this love thing.”
“Well, there you go, the project failed – I’m not good enough.”
“I hurt her. I suck”

That’s alright, we’re human. After all, changing the way we think is the most difficult yoga of all. 

I fall into the self-pity and “I suck” hole from time to time. And when that happens I call out “HELP!” to friends who I see as my secondary anchors in life. And with their help, get myself out of the hole.

And btw, falling into that hole is another chance of learning how to get out. ;).

Today, see if you can learn to empty your cup and see things as new chances at life. Cause life has its ups and down. If we can face life with empty cups, then when the water fills our boats during heavy rains, we got these empty cups to scoop the water out of our boats!

I raise my cup to you.

Cheers!

Back to the Beginning

I’ve been quiet this past month cause I’ve been going inwards into my own cocoon – reflecting and learning. Perhaps brewing my being for something bigger.

The Great Terry Prattchet wrote in A Hat Full of Sky, “Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.” The whole month of July has felt like I’m going back to the start in many areas of my life – but i’m not exactly coming back to the very beginning. I have gone so far from where I started. I’m coming back to learn even more.

The more I know, the more I really don’t know. The more I learn about things, the more I have to unlearn many other things.


On the physical level, I’ve been made aware of many imbalances within my body – on the surface level is how different my left side is from my right. The most challenging thing was probably to remind myself that I am perfect the way I am, even if I’m not equal on the left and right side. The un-evennes in my body was created to balance other aspects of my life in these past 3 plus decades of my life. And now that I’ve been made aware of it, I’m given an opportunity to come back to the start and re-discover Balance. It is an opportunity to bring in more stability in the way I move and live.

I’ve become my own personal trainer and physical therapist. And I’m thankful of the opportunities I got to experience and apply what I learned on myself first and foremost. By experiencing things, I can better help others.


And with that, I’ve felt like I had to come back to the start in terms of how I teach my yoga classes. I’ve been blessed enough to share yoga with older ladies. Their range of motions are very limited, and that got me to be creative and really look at their needs.

And this time, I felt like I was made to go deeper into that – To come back to seeing the basic functions of human bodies and find ways to create better stability and mobility in the body through simple exercises. That takes not just body awareness and intelligence, but a lot of introspection on how we move and function with the aid of our bodies.


I’m also coming back to the start and re-connecting with what is Love. What does it mean to love and be loved? All the dark shadows of love have been coming up to play – things like attachment, possession, and all those good things that stops us from really loving.

I feel so much love and at times it’s aching for someone to pour it to and to express it to. I’m navigating what does expressing an emotion and having it be heard mean to me. As someone who is so passionate about life, the expression of life – thus the emotions – means a lot to me. But how exactly?

I don’t have the answer.

And that’s okay.

I’m coming back to the start to the essence of love.


Awareness, Introspection, and a Heart-centered Intelligence are my trio of friends in learning about myself and my life and being a better person. And I came back to the beginning with these 3 friends. We’ve started another journey and I look forward to discoveries and new friends along the way.

So, if you’re ever confused or needed to make sense of this life, come back to the beginning, and I’ll meet you there and introduce you to my 3 friends.

 

Till then,

Circular Motion

When it comes to inspiration, most of the time the way we work with it is by tuning in to the inspiration.

But sometimes, inspiration comes like a thundering storm that washes an area in a sweep. This morning, such Thunder hit me that I had to rush to a paper to channel it out before it moved on. The pressure was so large that my sacral chakra was hurting and only subsided when I finished.

The truth is, the clouds had started gathering for a few days. An idea of a circle of life and completion has been playing in my mind for a few days. It comes in different forms every day. And this morning, the reflections expanded into a circular motion, a vortex, a cycle of a spiritual dizzying dance, a centrifugal force around a source.

It was a thundering realization of seeing the idea in anything and everything; in atoms, in flora, in dance, in galaxies, in the Universe.

So I laid the curves one at a time, reflecting a point that ripples out to the ends of the Universe – Reflecting the kind of explosions that create lives – Reflecting the constant multi-dimensional rotations of the world and our lives and all the little atoms in our body – Reflecting the connection to the Vortex of a source.

I put down the pen and it was never about the result.

It has always been about the process.

I’ve let it out and come full circle.

– Circular Motion

Thoughts on aging and living well

I’m the kind of person who likes to see all sides of an argument. I always believe there’s more than 1 side of things and this makes me believe that there’s no such thing as real absolutes, especially when it comes to dogmas, doctrines, and advices. I’m the worst at debates cause I like to equally weigh both sides.

I’m sure you’ve heard the saying Mind over Matter before. While it’s true to a huge extend, and despite believing the saying, I still feel like I hadn’t gotten the whole picture of that simple saying.

Earlier today, I spent a few hours at my 96 year-old grandma’s place to help out cause she’s been having trouble walking. Her legs are already quite weak and it takes a lot of effort to move one foot for even an inch.

But my grandma is the most strong-willed person I know. Despite all her difficulties, she refused to use the wheelchair. Unfortunately, this made it difficult for the rest of the family, especially in those moments where her legs gave up and she had to be supported by more than 2 people in mid-fall cause she exerts all her force as she refuse to sit down and continue trying with all her might to stand and continue walking.

Today, in one of those moments where her legs gave up, as I was doing my best gentle persuasion to get her to sit down on the wheelchair and rest, she shouted “I was given strength! I was given strength!” Even in the most difficult situation, nothing can shake her believe.

But her body was already halfway down, and even with 3 people by her side, she could still easily fall and hurt something. So I said to her “let’s use that strength to sit down.” And somehow, we managed to guide her to the chair behind her.

It was hard to be there and I carried what happened in my mind until hours later. I was half looking for a solution and half was just wondering if there’s a lesson here.

Slowly, throughout the day, stories come my way.

My dad watched a television talk show program where there’s a pole vaulter/ high jumper that is about the same age as my parents but still competing professionally. Then I received the following video of this fabulous 98-year-old lady who can still do amazing things with her body.

I searched her and listened to her Ted talk and her mantra was that anything is possible. She believes that she CAN, so she DOES. 

To me, my grandma is a perfect example of “Mind over Matter”. I always admire her determination and her will. But unfortunately her body can’t keep up with her mind anymore. The other 2 ladies are example of “Mind along Matter. The Mind believes that she can. The body, which has been taken care of, is able to support the mind. And to go even deeper, Tao, the 98 year-old-lady, is the perfect example of “Soul guided Mind along Matter”. 

And that’s the key to living well.

We are made up of Mind, Body, and Soul. For a healthy life, the 3 of them have to be developed together. A centered soul influences a healthy body, which can support a strong mind.

My grandma looked defeated when she sat on her wheelchair and my heart feels for her. I hope I can still show her that just by using a little help, that doesn’t mean she’s not strong. I hope I can share that there’s also power in gentleness, softness and rest.

But let this be a reminder for us to not just take care of one part, but to pay attention to what our souls/ hearts want, to the clarity and strength of our minds, and to the health of our bodies.

With heart,

Eid Mubarak wishes from me

‘Tis the season for Forgiveness

Eid Mubarak! Blessed Idul Fitri to all who celebrates!

Growing up in Indonesia, this holiday is on the top 5 of important holidays in my life. It’s kinda like the Golden Week in China or Japan and Thanksgiving in the States. Everyone gathers with their family, the road is quiet, and it’s all about togetherness. To get a better picture of Eid in Indonesia, check out my post from last year.

In Indonesia (and Malaysia and Singapore), after wishing someone Eid Mubarak, we normally continue by saying “Mohon Maaf Lahir dan Batin”, which literally means “[I/ We] ask forgiveness on the physical and soul level.” I think this is a great tradition cause it reminds all of us of Forgiveness.

To me, Forgiveness is something that happens continuously. There’s always someone that we can learn to forgive, and that someone includes ourselves. Especially ourselves.

It’s really easy to pass out forgiveness as a lip service, but doing it completely and fully is not always easy, especially when we’ve been hurt badly. Sometimes, it feels impossible to forgive others. And often we think there’s no reason why we should forgive the other person cause he/she/they have hurt us. Right?

 

So how do we get into forgiveness?

Firstly, let’s shift our perspectives. We don’t forgive for others’ sake. We forgive for ourselves. Forgiveness is not done to negate what has happened. It doesn’t take away the hurt and it does not mean that what has happened wasn’t bad. But we forgive so that we can move on and live free of all these attachments.

By forgiving, we accept the situation, we come back to the present and to ourselves and claim our power. We say “enough of this hurt” and “what you did, said, and thought no longer has power over me. I claim my power and I’m coming back to being whole.”

 

And the second very important component of forgiveness is Compassion.

Compassion is like the yummy soothing balm that wraps our heart with the glow of its honey-like spread. It softens and warms and reminds us of self-love.

Compassion goes hand in hand with Forgiveness cause it reminds us that it’s not about being perfect, but it’s about the progress.

 

Here’s an Example

I grew up in a way that I feel the pressure of always excelling at things and getting things right and well. Originally, they were external pressures. But eventually, they become an internal pressure.

I started self-judging and talking to myself harshly when I didn’t get something fast or when I didn’t do something well. I started realizing this in the last decade and really noticing how tiring it was.

So I started learning self-forgiveness. I started softening the heart and the mind and said to myself that the harsh words I said to myself and the pressures I gave myself no longer have power over me. I am loved and whole the way I am.

But old habits die hard, right? I started noticing that I gave myself pressure to get self forgiveness right. Hah! It’s really funny. Why did I judge myself for not being able to forgive myself? ^_^ Well, I’m just human. ….And that was when compassion kicked in.

I started seeing myself as a toddler who is learning things. How do we help a toddler learn? By encouraging the toddler and celebrating every little milestone.

He/ she managed to put one foot in the shoe by him/ herself!! Hoorah! He/ she managed to hold the spoon! Hoorah!

And so I said to myself, I noticed what my mind is doing to myself! Hoorah!! I forgive myself for not getting things right and I started celebrating every little milestones towards self-forgiveness.

 

There you go, folks!

Remember that forgiveness has always been for yourself, not others. And that failing is part of the process and always always be compassionate with yourself.

So on this lovely season, I wish you all blessings. Mohon Maaf Lahir dan Batin. I ask forgiveness for things I may have said or done wrongly.

Blessings be upon you,